When Oprah Winfrey Show producer Hilary Jane Robe searched for couples for the show’s “Greatest Love Stories” episode, she discovered a story about Dr. Moti and Ronit Peleg in a New Jersey newspaper.
Not only are the Pelegs destiny-driven soul mates with an incredible love story, but they’re also humanitarians whose Ego to Heart workshops emphasize heartfelt listening and communication between other couples.
It started when a seventeen-year-old boy became smitten with a magazine cover of the newly crowned Miss Israel of 1964: Ronit Rinat.
Moti said, “There was some kind of spirited glow in her.” He stressed her eyes beckoned to him, and he kept that photo, feeling they would someday marry.
Meanwhile, Ronit married a physician from the United States at age nineteen, and had three children.
“I went to college and opened an international store in Beverly Hills,” she said. But Ronit said her husband was neither a communicator nor spiritual.
“We went to a workshop for couples called “Flesh & Spirit” and it was just what I was seeking: to be listened to without judgment, to be spoken to from the heart and, most of all, to listen to my own heart before I spoke.”
She studied for five years under Dr. Jack Zimmerman and Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless, certified in the couples’ intimacy practice. She brought this counseling method back to Israel in 2002 and became the founder of Council in Israel.
Council helps one openly explore, offer heartfelt expression, and learn to listen attentively. It is said to be the gateway to intercultural understanding and the nonviolent exploration of conflict.
After her husband’s death, Ronit was empowered to continue with a full life.
“I have trained, mentored, spread the practice all over the country (Israel),” she said, “it is recognized as a way to reduce violence in schools, empower women, men, and children—to build community and connect through dialogue between Arabs and Jews.”
Simultaneously, Moti came to the States in 1970. He received his psychology degree from Queens College, got married, and had two children.
“Sadly, my wife and I didn’t have communication skills,” he said. “We struggled with fears and insecurities that eventually drew us apart and caused us to divorce.”
Peleg completed his doctorate at Yeshiva University, and has been a psychotherapist and psychologist for more than three decades, specializing in traumatic stress associated with pain and relationship issues.
However, his desire to meet the girl with the eyes that seemed to signal him remained constant. So in 2004, a friend called Ronit to say he had someone who wished to meet her.
At first, Ronit thought it was a joke, but realized this man’s voice seemed truthful. Moti communicated with Ronit via phone calls, emails, love letters, and songs.
“The lyrics and songs talked to my soul,” Ronit said. She flew to New York and visited Moti.
For the first three hours of their visit, Ronit asked Moti to join her in Council.
Ronit said, “We shared deep stories from our past, our childhood fears, and dreams.” After two years, they were married. The destined couple combined their counseling methods to form Ego to Heart.
The workshops enable people to listen to the “voice of the relationship,” thus eliminating the ego of “me,” transforming it to “we,” which diminishes the power of ego that reduces a heart’s connection, according to the Pelegs.
“The results of respect, humility and compassion, allowing a person to be seen as perfect in their imperfections, without judgment … empowers each one of us and the relationship,” Ronit added.
They provided workshops in New Hope, but realized the location did not have the karma and warmth they sought. Once more, destiny called the Pelegs to the Hudson Valley, where Moti’s son, a construction engineer, came upon a place in Esopus.
The 10,000-square-foot mansion with heart carvings throughout the structure overlooking the Hudson River was called Heart’s Ease, and it served as a labor school for newly arrived immigrants. By working with the Esopus Historical Society, the Pelegs’ research revealed that one of America’s greatest humanitarians, Eleanor Roosevelt, served on the board of the labor school.
Architectural heart-shaped appointments, the name Heart’s Ease, and the grand humanitarian connection? This certainly seems like destiny. And if historical renovations and construction go as intended, by August 2011, the couple’s destiny will be fulfilled.